On Tuesday evening, as thousands of tourists and locals gathered at the Strasbourg Christmas market, 29-year-old Cherif Chekatt started for the spot with diabolic designs on his mind. A little after 8pm, the jihadist fled the bustling market, leaving two dead, and 13 injured near one of the central squares, Place Kléber.
Authorities have deployed scores of police, soldiers and border agents on either sides of France-German border to net Cherif Chekatt. The terrorist was born and brought up in Strasbourg, and has a long history of crime, and spent a long time in jail. He has 27 convictions for robbery cases in France, Germany and Switzerland.
Cherif Chekatt was in the French authorities’ radar as he was listed as a “fiche S”, someone who is a potential threat to national security. He was extremely radicalized while lodged in prison for robbery crimes. Security forces searched his Neudorf house after the Strasbourg shooting, and found a grenade, a rifle, four knives and ammunition.
Experts believe Strasbourg shooting has something to do with the city being France’s oldest Christmas market, besides holding the official seat of the European Parliament. For maximum impact, the jihadi attack was timed to coincide with Christmas festivities, and the parliament session, which was on at the time of Tuesday attack.
Cherif Chekatt shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great), as he fired indiscriminately at the crowd. A Thai tourist, 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, was killed in the Strasbourg shooting, while an Italian journalist was injured in the shootout. The other person killed in the deadly jihadi attack is a 45-year-old Frenchman. A 40-year-old local Afghani man who was hit in the head by a bullet, is brain-dead.
The Strasbourg shooting suspect was loaded with a gun and a knife. Ten minutes after he had wreaked havoc in the market, he got into a taxi, but not before being hit in the arm by soldiers. A bleeding Cherif Chekatt boasted to the taxi driver that he had killed 10 people. He ordered the taxi driver to drop him in the Neudorf area, where he resided.
Authorities have detained the terrorist’s mother, father and two brothers to gain insights into the Strasbourg shooting suspect.